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Legislative Report (Vol XXIV No 11) March 20, 2005 Governors Committee Endorse Education Recommendations

March 29, 2005

As reported and outlined last week the education subcommittee of the Governors' governance committee finalized their education recommendations. The education subcommittee presented 15 recommendations and a timeline. The fifteen recommendations covered a wide range of topics, some to be addressed by the general assembly and others or by a new commission called the Next Generation Education Commission. Another recommendation requires the new commission to establish minimum sizes for school districts and high schools. However, no size was recommended.

The subcommittee called for the creation of a system enabling school officials to discuss sharing or increased efficiency opportunities with other school districts, educational partners, government entities, and others. They further recommended that any sharing or efficiency effort should support rigorous and relevant student programming and efforts to increase student achievement through the reduced costs of operations, creating additional resource availability. The subcommittee's document also called for each Area Education Agency (AEA) to develop a regional plan, in a consistent format, that identifies existing, new, or expanded opportunities for school district sharing or efficiency of operations. On Monday of this week the full 12 member Governors committee endorsed the education recommendations.

The commission was a surprise addition to the education subcommittee recommendations, appearing in the draft for the first and only time on the last day of committee meetings prior to submission to the full group. The make up of the commission and an appropriation of $250,000 appears in HF 816, the education appropriations bill. (Referred to as the “institute for tomorrow's workforce” in the bill). A further description appears in the next report segment.

Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce

An institute for tomorrow's workforce is created as an independent agency, which shall, at a minimum, do the following:

  • Review educational standards to determine relevance and rigor necessary for continuous improvement in student achievement and meeting workforce needs.
  • Identify jobs skills and corresponding high school coursework necessary to achieve success in the Iowa workforce.
  • Review the state's education accountability measures, including but not limited to student proficiency and individual and organization program accountability.
  • Identify state and local barriers to improved student achievement and student success as well as barriers to sharing among and within all areas of Iowa's education system.
  • Identify effective education structure and delivery models that promote optimum student achievement opportunities for all Iowa students that include, but are not limited to, the role of technology.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for existing and emerging innovative educational sharing and collaborative efforts among and between Iowa's secondary education system as well as Iowa's postsecondary education system.
  • Promote partnerships between private sector business and all areas of Iowa's education system.

Membership on the committee will consist of superintendents, business and economic development representatives, a President of a public and private university and a community college president. Notice a particular group not included. While AEAs will play a major role in this process and will have to communicate with this committee they were not included in the membership of the group. We are attempting to rectify this oversight once again as we have had to do continually in the past.

The members of this commission would serve three-year terms and the commission itself would stay in existence until the law is repealed in 2015.

Floor Action

The following bills were debated and passed on the floor of the House and Senate this week:

HF 742 - Early Intervention Block Grants - This bill extends the class size / reading initiative program, through the 2005-06 school year. The bill retains the original distribution formula of 50 percent based on K-3 enrollment and 50 percent based on grades 1-6 free and reduced lunch counts. The bill adds a reporting requirement that the DE report the number of 4th graders reading below proficiency for the three biennium reports since the inception of the program. The appropriation of $29 million to fund the grants is anticipated in a standings appropriations bill later in the session.

HF 741 – Drivers Ed. - Allows a parent or guardian who is home-schooling a child to teach driver's education to the child if the parent has a license and a clear driving record for the last two years. It further requires classroom instruction that is equivalent to that required in high schools, but doubles the driving hour requirements to 40. Requires that the instruction course be approved by the DOT.

HF 739 – Technology – This bill establishes an Iowa learning technology commission to administer an Iowa learning technology initiative, to be implemented through local and public-private partnerships, develop and administer an Iowa learning technology pilot program, collect and assess data relating to the current status of technology in Iowa's public school classrooms, and identify and coordinate current revenue sources used for K-12 educational technology; and requires the state board of regents to establish a research triangle composed of the three regents universities and clearinghouse for purposes of sharing K-12 education technology initiatives. (Note: The AEAs do have a member on this commission, but only because we had to amend us in during debate on a similar bill last year. The Governor vetoed that bill.)

SF 245 - Core Curriculum Goal - This bill establishes a goal that 80 percent of high school graduates take a core curriculum of four English and three each of science, math, and social studies courses. The bill also requires the DE to develop a model core curriculum and requires districts to report progress toward meeting the model curriculum to parents and students beginning in the 2006-07 school year.

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